I had a birthday recently and while I’m not thrilled about adding another year to the ledger, I have to say it was a great weekend. After a Friday night dinner, I got home and opened my gifts. If you’re a collector, you always hope for something hobby-related and thankfully we’ve got a couple of great card shops near my home in the Dallas area. Among my presents were gift cards to both Nick’s Sportscards and Triple Cards. The next day became one of those “all hobby days” we get to revel in once in a while.
Saturday began with the Fed Ex man dropping off a package from Topps. The card inside the small envelope was the Carlton Fisk redemption card I had pulled out of Tribute. It was nice to see a lot of care put into getting this one to me safely. After lunch, I headed out to Nick's where I ran into good friend Chris Olds of Beckett. We discussed several hobby topics and he thanked me for my recent column on Beckett’s experimentation regarding temporary removal of pre-2001 cards from the monthly baseball price guide/magazine. It’s become a bit of a hot potato topic and we try to see both sides of the coin.
You may or may not know Chris but he is one of my favorite people in the hobby. When I was working at Beckett and he was going a newspaper sports column, he would often email or call me for information on stories. He actually refused the free price guide subscriptions I offered him and insisted on paying. I explained that handing out free subs was something we did for all hobby media and I was not trying to buy his loyalty but that is how straight up Chris is as a person.
I picked up some supplies and then headed to Triple Cards where I ran into local collector Jj Saenz (yes, it’s Jj, not JJ). I had invited him to come over and we traded cards face-to-face for a few hours, just like so many collectors did in the pre-internet era. Even my wife got a kick out of it. "It was really nice to see you truly in your element,” she said.
And just as I finished up with Jj, an old friend of mine from Beckett called. A few months ago at a small Beatles event held at a nearby mall, I had seen him for the first time in years. You can expect a nice little feature on artist Eric Cash here soon. Eric has drawn cards for many card sets although he does more Beatles work now than he does sports cards (you can see his work on this website). I know he'd love to get back into card work.
What really impressed me was his studio was a collector's dream come true. When I complimented him on the material he owned, he told me it represented only part of his collection, with much more in storage. He’s working on early 1950's Topps baseball sets and I brought some along for him to look at. Since I always give deep discounts for Beckett people past and present, he got to pick out a ton of cards at a very reasonable price. Eric, believe it or not, is a second cousin of Norm Cash, the beloved Tigers first basemen for nearly 15 seasons.
So I got home about 11 p.m. after a full hobby day, not regretting the fact that’s I’d missed a weekend card show in the area. Buying, selling and trading with friends was a great way to spend a birthday weekend.
Not all of the news was happy over the weekend, though. I can’t let too much time get away without mentioning this. The great, warm voice that many of us grew up with was stilled on Father's Day with the death of Casey Kasem. While we are going to remember the tug of war over visitation rights which dominated
the final few months of his life, I prefer to remember and honor that voice I heard on so many Sunday mornings before turning on the television to watch whatever sports would be on that day.
The timing of Casey’s American Top 40 was perfect for those on the east coast as the show ran from 9 a.m. to noon during most of the 1970's on WPIX-FM (102.0) and then beginning at noon the sports programs would begin running on TV.
If you are really into music like I was, Casey was sort of the musical equivalent of baseball cards. Before the days of instant online answers, we learned much about our favorite artists and various songs—good and not so good-- through his voice. He told stories about how the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was written about a real event and told us about Al Jarvis, who may have been the first radio disc jockey.
We learned to humanize players through their sports cards and if you like hockey who could forget that for three straight years Topps put on the back of the Greg Polis hockey card: "Greg's dog used to chase pucks for him in his childhood.”
On the back of the 1980 Topps Jim Langer football card was a cartoon with the caption "Jim enjoys drinking beer". A card company using those cartoons today would get lit up in the social media world, yet we needed those little information blurbs on our sports cards back then. They helped bring us a little closer to the names we read in The Sporting News or saw on the field.
So long Casey. I’ll be tuned into Reel Radio this weekend, when they run some air checks so I can honor another piece of my youth.